How to pitch to NPR Music
NPR Music is an editorial team devoted to connecting the dots between the people who make music, the people who listen to it and the context surrounding both. We prioritize publishing a wide array of perspectives, not a single definitive "take," and are open to all genres, especially those you think we could be covering better. If you haven't written for us before and are interested in pitching a feature, here's what you need to know.
At a basic level, your pitch should follow the common-sense guidelines you've seen elsewhere. Put "PITCH:" at the start of the subject line, followed by a few words summarizing your idea. In the body of your message, clearly state your central argument or question. Explain why now is the time to tell this story and how you'll go about it, including a target length (800-1,200 words is a good range for a first assignment). If there's a particular audience you're hoping to reach, say so. Keep it to two or three short paragraphs. Only one pitch at a time, please.
Most importantly, remember that a pitch won't stand out if all it does is broadly endorse the music. While many music stories do hinge on taste, just as important to us are history, community, identity and the mechanics of power — the things that filter how we listen. What excites, concerns or startles you about this music, how it was made or how it's been used? What should your reader understand about it, regardless of whether they like it? Give us a focused, specific angle on your subject and you'll be ahead of the pack.
So what kinds of stories are we looking for?
Just about any written format is fair game, but most of our features fall into a few categories:
There is room for the occasional wild card — say, a high-concept list or a live review with a grander point — as long as the presentation justifies itself. But no matter what, say what shape your piece will take and why. Stories come alive in the telling; how you'll tell yours is as important as what it's about.
OK, what aren't we looking for?
There are a few common pitfalls that all but guarantee your pitch won't get a response:
That said, a good pitch doesn't have to be 100% perfect to be worth sending. If there's an idea that you know would make a great NPR Music story, send it along with details about why it means something special to you, and we may be able to help find the edges of the frame.
If you're ready to submit:
Email your pitch to [email protected].* Our editors will review it and, if we're interested or have questions, contact you within a week or two. We can't respond to everything, but if you've sent several pitches without hearing back, feel free to ask how your submissions could be improved and we'll do our best to offer some guidance. As of mid-2023, our base rates for common story types are $200-$600 for reviews depending on length, $800 for short features (including interviews and obituaries) and $1,200 for longer features and essays.
*Please use this address only for pitching your own web features — it's not the place to pitch a radio piece or a new podcast, or for artists or publicists to lobby for coverage. Also, NPR is a news organization: If a story involves a clear conflict of interest between writer and subject, it's not for us.
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